Ferrari boss Jean Todt has vowed to ‘protect’ Kimi Raikkonen when the Finn arrives to replace Michael Schumacher in 2007.
The Italian team’s principal said in Maranello this week that he is looking forward to a long term relationship with the Finn, despite the fact that Raikkonen’s immediate tenure is for three years only.
Asked by a journalist for the British newspaper The Times whether he thought the hard-partying 27-year-old will fill Schumacher’s boots successfully, Todt said: “I don’t like to talk too much. I think the facts are more important.
“People who work at Ferrari have stayed for ten years, so I really hope that Kimi will stay for the next ten years at Ferrari.
“I have a very good feeling with Kimi. My responsibility, our responsibility, will be to allow him to work as best he can and to protect him.”
Todt denied that Raikkonen will automatically enjoy ‘number one’ status, amid teammate Felipe Massa’s insistence that he is not going to play a subordinate role at Ferrari.
The Frenchman said: “Felipe is going to drive for Ferrari, Kimi is going to drive for Ferrari — there never has been a number one or number two.
“Time will tell who has the best chance to compete for Ferrari for the championship.”